Lottery grant to save Vicars’ Close, Wells
WELLS Cathedral has won a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £577,562 to save and open the oldest continuously inhabited medieval street in Europe.
The project aims to make a number of historic properties on Vicars’ Close, Wells, accessible to the public for the first time, to better share their rich history.
The project will also preserve the unique architectural heritage of the enclosure.
The exceptional funding will enable Wells Cathedral to advance its plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.
There are plans to open two Vicars’ Close houses as interpretive centres, while creating public access to other hidden gems such as the Vicars’ Hall and the Treasury Rooms.
The street was built for the cathedral choir in 1348 and the choir still lives there today.
An unbroken archive of the cathedral choir exists from the construction of the enclosure until 1936. It will be used to bring to life the social history of the inhabitants of the enclosure of the Vicars alongside the story of its musical heritage which has been an integral part of life on the enclosure and the cathedral for over 600 years.
The project will provide opportunities through new programming to work with and support groups in local and regional Cathedral communities.
It will fund essential work on the exteriors of Vicars’ Close properties, conserving aging buildings to ensure their survival for future generations to experience and enjoy.
Changing weather conditions are accelerating the deterioration of the street, so the conservation project offers an opportunity to address the climate crisis while taking into account ambitions to achieve net zero carbon.
The Dean of Wells, the Very Reverend Dr John Davies, said: “We are delighted to receive this support through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players.
“The ‘Vicars’ Close: A Medieval Street Singing Through the Centuries’ project is a crucial step in conserving, interpreting, sharing and making accessible this wonderful heritage asset.
“The project will create opportunities for our local and regional communities through skills building, education and employment that will help heal the effects of the Covid pandemic.
“The project will also create an innovative and exciting new experience that Wells, Somerset and the South West can be proud of.
“It is a pleasure to know that we are getting closer to ensuring that future generations will continue to enjoy this wonderful place. »